This isn’t a concept I gave much thought before taking the UCLA class, but writing with an audience in mind was part of last week’s lecture and assignment. So, it got me thinking…do I do that, and if not, should I?
It’s an interesting question, and while I’ve no doubt many, if not most authors do keep the target audience in mind from beginning to end, when I look back at my own writings I have to say the answer is an unequivocal, “nope”. Perhaps there is the odd story or poetic rambling where I pictured the type of person who’d “get it”, or relate, but when I start something, it’s never with consideration for its eventual reception or acceptance.
Having hit the bit 40 last year could be one reason why I don’t care so much, that and the fact that for me, writing is a hobby, not something I expect to bring fame and fortune, or even enough money to quit my day job (I adore my co-workers). No, for me the joy of writing is using it as my creative outlet, my therapy, and my safe place to do whatever the hell I want, critics be damned. Middle age does that I think, gives us a welcome “I don’t give a shit what you think” attitude, and God I love it. I wouldn’t go back to my twenties for anything…seriously…not even to lose the much despised extra pounds and grey hairs.
Besides, the pressure of trying to have your writing liked by the masses is akin to trying to win a popularity contest in high school…stressful, exhausting, and guaranteed to disappoint, at least on some level. Obviously, it’s impossible to please everyone, and some people are gonna hate no matter what. You could shove a diamond studded copy of Hamlet under their nose and they’ll say it’s tripe, because there’s no accounting for bad taste…or asshol-ery. By the way, I do have a point here, and it’s this: If you spend all your time worrying about who will read your work, you’ll be wasting time and energy, not to mention hindering all that wonderful, raw creativity.
Nothing says it better than this cliché, “If you build it, they will come”. This is true of most things and I will argue especially true of writing. If you write fearlessly with your heart and soul, that elusive voice we all aspire to find will appear. It will appear and it will find an audience, because there’s nothing held back, nothing disguising the truth that is you, which is what makes a story unique, compelling, and authentic. We all want to feel that, the 100% of someone’s soul that has the power to transport us worlds away from the mundane hum drum of daily life. All it takes is one person, one passionate reader to pass it along, and damn if that isn’t like the best surprise present ever…EVER.
So, tell your inner critic to piss off! Don’t give a second thought to who the hell might or might not read your next creation, throw caution to the wind, and revel in the joy of being free…being you. While I can’t guarantee you’ll have a best seller at the end, I do guarantee it’ll be one helluva fun, liberating ride.
The Cheeky One